Ok. I admit it. I am a reality TV junkie. This season, I was hooked on MTV’s Chelsea Settles because she seems, well, real. Her emotional move from a small suburb outside of Pittsburgh to Los Angeles paralleled her personal journey as she ventured to break into the fashion industry while battling a food addiction and dealing with all of the “firsts” of living on her own.
Chelsea became my SHEro as she fought off any obstacles that stood in her way, mainly her own insecurities. I celebrated her accomplishments from my living room couch and was excited when she agreed to answer some questions for A*cute!
I spent a lot of time living up to my last name — “Settles” and now, I’m happy to say that is the furthest thing from the truth.
Q. How does it feel to watch yourself go through this epic journey on MTV?
A. It’s been amazing! It’s honestly like having the pages of your diary come to life before your eyes. It was a little weird at first, but the support from fans and viewers has really pulled me through. I’ve learned a lot about myself along the way, including my strength as a woman — it has all been very empowering.
Q. Looking back, what was the most difficult experience that you encountered while filming?
A. Being heckled outside of a night club after attempting to go to my cousin’s birthday gathering (first episode). It was the first time anyone had ever vocalized such hatred against me and I didn’t know how to deal with it. It would have hurt either way, but the shame and embarrassment I felt due to the cameras being there elevated those feelings.
Q. What inspired you to continue pursuing your goals despite the challenges that you faced?
A. I feel like I wanted an easy layout leading to my goals. I’ve always been a dreamer, but I began to use my weight as a crutch and a roadblock to stay set in my ways. Once I had enough of living in contentment; I finally took a leap and started to believe in myself again.
Q. What have you learned about the fashion industry?
A. Confidence is key. Do not give up, develop a tough skin, and learn to take constructive criticism well. At the end of the day; it’s business — it’s not necessarily a personal attack on your character.
Q. What impact do you want to have on the industry?
A. In the fashion industry or any industry that I decide to to become involved with; it’s important that I don’t compromise any of my morals, dignity, or integrity as a young woman. It’s an ugly world, which makes it is easy to lose yourself — if you don’t have the right people around. I just want to remain humble, grounded, and most importantly, be true to myself.
Q. What advice do you have for young people who don’t fit the fashion mold, but want to break into the industry?
A. Be original, confident in your abilities, never give up, and learn to take rejection and criticism well. Even with an education and background in fashion, I still have a lot to learn. Each person that you encounter can offer some insight, so be a sponge and soak up as much information as possible. Lastly, remember you have to crawl before you walk — it’s not settling if you have to intern and work two jobs on the side as a means to reach your ultimate goal or dream position. It’s just a part of the grind, a grind that everyone goes through no matter what industry they’re in.
Q . What is next for you and your career?
A. I obviously love Fashion and will continue to seek various opportunities, but I’m really focused on promoting self-love and developing a healthy self-esteem. It is something many struggle with regardless or their size. It’s not only important to tackle this, but important for them to realize that they are not alone.